Showing posts with label spiritual healing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spiritual healing. Show all posts

Saturday, June 15, 2024

I didn't need to belong to a church to seek His help

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 15, 2024

It is hard enough to encourage people with #PTSD to seek spiritual healing but when they hear people claim to be Christian but show no relationship to what He taught, it is making it close to impossible.

I help anyone in spiritual pain because no matter if they believe in Jesus, or a higher power, it helps heal PTSD. Even the Department of Veterans Affairs noticed the importance of adding spirituality to treatment. Read Addressing Religious or Spiritual Dimensions of Trauma and PTSD
Spirituality and post-trauma mental health may influence each other, in both positive and negative ways. This has less to do with people's dispositional spiritual identity and more to do with how they spiritually cope with adversity. Given that trauma often leads to a need to find meaning, and that spirituality often provides such a meaning system in people's lives, it follows that trauma can introduce a need to reconcile difficult events with beliefs.
Changed relationship to or conception of one's deity. That is, a traumatic event can cause people to experience changes in the way they see a Higher Power, such as feeling abandoned or punished by them, feeling angry at them, or questioning how a loving, all-powerful deity could allow horrible things to happen to the innocent. When religious meaning systems are very central, then individuals may either shift their pre-existing beliefs (e.g., "There is no Higher Power.") or their sense of the situation (e.g., "I must have done something wrong to provoke this punishment."). If people see an event as likely caused by punishment from a Higher Power or evil forces, they may have a sense of predictability while also feeling that the world is more cruel than previously thought. A changed relationship with one's faith can also be made more difficult if a trauma occurs during a stage of psychospiritual development in which there are already normative doubts and questions (e.g., early adulthood; 13).
No matter what caused PTSD in you, this is an important part of your healing. The problem is, when people claim to be Christian yet spew out hatred, judgment, lies, display anger, and cause division, they are not what they claim to be, it shuts off seeking it. Understandable if people do not know what Jesus said was the way to treat others and what a "personal relationship" with Jesus means.

Here are just some of the things you need to know.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24
It is great if you belong to a church and feel welcomed there but do not need to go to a building to talk to God. You can do it wherever and whenever you want. You don't need money to put into the church funds. You do not need to follow their rules or confess your sins to another human, You can follow the rules Jesus laid down if you believe in Him, or whatever the higher power you believe in. There is a huge difference between "religion" and having a spiritual relationship as a Christian or any other faith you have.

If you are suffering you need to know it was not caused by God but He understands your pain. The Beatitudes
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
He went to the mountainside to preach...not into a building.

You do not have to take an oath to a group of people that will force you to do what they say.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Notice that it says the earth is His footstool? That was what He told Isaiah when he wanted to build God a temple.
Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool: What Temple can you build for me as good as that? 2 My hand has made both earth and skies, and they are mine. Yet I will look with pity on the man who has a humble and contrite heart, who trembles at my word.
If anyone wants you to hate someone else, He preached against that. If they hate you and claim to be Christian, they are not. They just claim to be.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
There is so much in the Bible of what He said that proves too many you see on TV and at political rallies claiming to be "Christian" have no relationship to Him at all.

Do not be deceived by them because that type of person would be the first to tell you PTSD came from God instead of God is there to give you what you need to heal. I can't count how many times I've heard people say "God only gives us what we can handle." They don't realize they just told us it happened because God was punishing us. He didn't. I know He saved me many times, forgave me, took mercy, and comforted me. I didn't need to belong to a church to seek His help. You don't either.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

You are the only one able to change what you believe

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 5, 2024

Why do churches contradict what is in the Bible? They tell us to not seek the dead as in this passage, Leviticus 19:31 "Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God." Then tell you to pray to saints. I found this answer from St. Paul's Seminary.
"Catholics believe that canonized saints, who are individuals recognized by the Church for their exceptional holiness, continue to be a part of this communion even after death. When Catholics pray to saints, they are reaching out to these holy individuals, seeking their intercession and guidance in their relationship with God.

It should be noted: the Church teaches all people in heaven are saints. But some are officially designated as having lived lives of heroic Christian virtue and are thus worthy of imitation and veneration.

Seriously? What about all the other people who dedicated their lives to helping people because they were serving God but for whatever reason, the "church" wasn't interested in them?  The "church" tells people they need to give their money to the church while Jesus said to give it to the poor. They tell you to confess your sins to another human, but Jesus said to ask God for forgiveness. They tell you if you don't follow their rules, you are wrong because their way is the only right way. That isn't what Jesus said. They won't tell you the word "church" that Jesus built was not a building but an assembly. They won't tell you that Jesus didn't pray in a building but prayed outside and spoke to the assembly of people choosing to listen to Him.

They tell you the words they want you to use in prayer. It sounds like a good thing however, Jesus said to pray to Our Father. Add this from Matthew 6 to that, "5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." 

I wanted to know why the church has to perform the ritual of baptism. I was baptized but I heard it was done in case babies die as infants. I also heard it was because the baby was conceived through sin. There are many explanations but none of them made sense to me. Why does the church baptize babies?
Why do children need baptismal grace for salvation? Because they inherit original sin from the moment of conception.
"The Catholic Church has been baptizing babies ever since Christ commanded His apostles to baptize all people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (see Mt 28:18-20). This has always been the practice of the Orthodox churches and of many Protestant denominations as well.

Parents bring their babies to the waters of baptism by professing a belief in Christ on behalf of the child and promising to raise him or her in the faith. For adults who are to be baptized, the Church also requires them to profess their faith in Christ."

Because baptism confers saving grace, the earlier a person comes to baptism, the better.
As adults, it makes sense because they made the choice willingly knowing their spirits needed to be cleansed. After all, no one is without sin or beyond being forgiven by God. 

This all brought me back to Genesis 2:7. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

It seems as if the church wants to venerate some people because of the power of their souls, but at the same time, they want to ignore the power of the souls/spirits in their care.

What makes you unique is your spirit. It isn't just your genes that came from your parents. It is why you may look like people in your family but are not the same as they are. Consider the expression people use to explain someone with wisdom beyond their years as being an "old soul," defined as," a person, especially a child or young person, who demonstrates a maturity, understanding, or seriousness that is typical of someone much older"

What if the church doesn't give you a reason to explain baptism? If it is a sin to be "fruitful and multiply," why would God command it? "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” How can they say a baby was born with sin?

Is it because the truth terrifies them? Imagine if they told people they baptized babies to cleanse their spirits because their spirits for the sins committed in past lives. Wouldn't that cause parents to want to see their babies baptized to give them a fresh start instead of telling them they needed to do it in case their baby dies as an infant? Many cultures believe in reincarnation and so do individuals.

This is from the National Library Of Medicine regarding past lives.
One of the mysteries puzzling human mind since the origin of mankind is the concept of “reincarnation.” It is derived from Latin and literally means “to take on the flesh again,” in other words, “to take on the fleshy (physical) body.” Discussion of the subject appears in the philosophical traditions of India and Greece from about the 6th century BC. What exactly is reincarnation? It simply means that we leave one life and go into another; it is all for the sole purpose of soul development and spiritual growth. The soul may take the form of human, animal, or plant depending on the moral quality of the previous life's actions. This doctrine is a central tenet of the Indian and Greek religions. However, reincarnation implies that the person remains essentially the same, while occupying a new body. Reincarnation is also known by other terms like “rebirth,” “metempsychosis” (Greek word), “transmigration” (English equivalent of metempsychosis), “disambiguation,” “palingenesis” and so on."
I hope this is making you think about the power within you. Do you think you've been here before? Maybe the expression, "I must have done something wrong in a past life," means more than just words now. The more I think about the power of spirits, the more questions I have. 

I wanted to make some points when I wrote The Scribe Of Salem. Unbeknown to me, I made a point I had no intention of making. It was pulling readers into a world they didn't know they lived in. Magic and miracles are all around us but we attribute them to luck instead of seeing there is much more to our lives than flesh and bones. It is the spirit within each of us that guides us and helps us. 

If you believe the spirit within you guides you, then you will yield to it. If you don't, then it doesn't matter what your spirit is trying to tell you. If you believe that surviving the cause of PTSD was an intervention from God, then you have hope He will help you heal. If you believe that He caused the event as punishment, it is impossible to hope for His help. Why? Because most people believe the spirit inside of us was created by Him. No one can change what you believe no matter how hard they try. You are the only one who can do that. The power is all yours.

I tried to change what people believed about having PTSD. Most of the time it worked and they realized what they were led to believe was wrong. Sometimes they wouldn't listen no matter how hard I tried, how many facts I gave them, or how much time I spent with them. They refused to change what they believed. I had to give up until they decided to listen. Sadly some of them never did.

All of us survive our own horror stories and battle demons trying to take away who we really are.  All of us need someone to help us heal by knowing the pain we carry because they once carried their own. We are the only ones able to accept their help or walk away.  

That is what all the characters of The Scribe Of Salem went through trying to save Chris Papadopoulos and help him do what his spirit was sent here to do. Sure it is about fighting PTSD but there are too many things missing in books or movies about it. Yes, it is about a conspiracy and secret societies because when people think about them they tend to believe them to be evil. I flipped it all around. Just as I flipped the Salem Witch Trials around and the beliefs of the people willingly allowing the trials to go on as long as they did.  

My hope is you will flip things around too and find what you have been looking for, or at least imagine it to be possible. You are the only one able to change what you believe.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Who is testing you?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 27, 2024
Someone will tell you that God is testing you when you are suffering. No clue where they got that one from, but it must be connected to something they were told when they were suffering. It was not very comforting at all to me, so I doubt it would have comforted them. So why would they say something like that?

Another thing they say is, "God only gives us what we can handle." Is it because they think everything bad that happens to them comes from God? How does that work when we are supposed to pray to God to help us when we were just told He did it to us?

I've been going through an incredibly hard time since last year. I'm past anger. Past crying. I think I'm approaching numbness. It is understandable to the people who know me personally and they feel sorry for me. They want to help but don't know what to say. I wish they'd just say something like, "I'm here for you," instead of what I find troubling.

We all hear things people should not say to us when they want to help but don't know how. The thing is, too often we end up believing what they say especially when we hear it more than once from different people. Hell, they can't all be wrong. Actually, they can depending on how they understand the spiritual connection we have to God. Maybe they are thinking about what happened to Job and assume it is happening to others. But when you read his story, you realize from the start that it wasn't God doing the testing, but Satan was. God allowed it to prove a point. Honestly, that bothers me. 

Job had great faith in God and he was blessed. He thanked God for everything he had. As more and more were taken from him, he still trusted God. That is until he wondered why God would turn against him when he didn't do anything wrong.

People end up with #PTSD and we suffer mentally, physically, and spiritually. The worst part for me is when it is crushing my spirit and I hear something that disagrees with the faith I have. I used to just let it go until I understood that I needed to explain how unhelpful it was. If they were telling me that, then it must be what they believe. That's sad.

We all hear things based on what people believe. We hear it when they believe falsehoods about PTSD too. It is almost as if they've heard the rumors and believed them to be true. Have you heard you just weren't tough enough to take what happened to you? Unless they've lived through something you survived, they don't have a clue about how it would hit them. They'll judge you all the same because that was what they heard about it and accepted it. Maybe it is because they fear what their own life would become if it happened to them?

Job's friends tried to comfort him but ended up saying stupid things. There are some things I can assure you of that may comfort you simply because I know them to be true.

God didn't do it to you and is not testing you. If He was, there would be no point in praying to Him for help. He isn't punishing you after saving you from what happened to you. He's there to help you through it.

If people won't help you heal, it isn't because He's stopping them. He's sending them to help but they won't respond. He enabled all of us with free will. We are free to make our own choices and when they choose to not help you, that isn't God's fault. It is theirs. Maybe they want to help but don't know how to? It is up to us to let them know what we need and explain how they can help. If you need them to just listen to you, tell them. If they want to "fix" you, change their language into how they can "help" you instead. That allows them to be doing what you need and actually being helpful.

I can also assure you that you are not weak, even though too many people may think that way because of what they were told about what other people thought. Turn it around. Remind them of something they went through. Help them remember what it was like for them to recover from it if they ever did. Then ask them to think about what it would be like if the same thing never let go of them. That opens their minds to see a different view of you. You have to consider the fact you are the only one who can explain it to the people who care about you. Otherwise, they won't be able to understand. All too often they will think the way you are acting is about them and not what you're going through.

While it is true PTSD is not "curable" it is healable. Your life can become a lot better than it is. As with all wounds, you can heal. Sure you may have some scars left but you can deal with them when you get the help you need. Mental health help and physical help are huge parts of what you need but don't forget about the spiritual part of you. Misunderstanding the power of it can eat you up. Strengthening it will help you heal far beyond what could ever imagine.

I know that with all I've been through, and still going through, would be far worse if I didn't have a spiritual connection to God. I know I'm not alone. You aren't either.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Are you following Christ or a church?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 2, 2023

When the leaders you follow are using your faith to control you, it is time to examine your own spiritual path and walk away from them.
The word to describe whatever faith you may belong to, sadly, all too often, is not what comes out of the leaders of it. Over 90% of the people I helped since 1982 were offended when I asked if they were religious. I had to use what they believed to help them heal spiritually, and it was an important question to ask them. The last thing I wanted was to convert anyone. After they explained how they used to go to church but felt betrayed, they said they still believed in God and Jesus. The problem was they didn't find either one within the walls of the building. 

They were spiritual but somehow ashamed to admit it. I told them some scriptures they hadn't heard during a sermon and they were empowered to release the shame and embrace how beautiful it was to be what they were.

The Christian faith is being used by far too many to manipulate what they want people to become aware of. They condemn those Jesus embraced and loved. Yes, He preached against committing sins but did not support judging them or hating them. The instructions He gave those who chose to follow Him were about love, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. They were to live their lives the way He taught them to, not attempt to force anyone else to do anything. They were accountable for themselves and in control over no one else. After all, to preach otherwise would be a lie since God gave all souls free will to make their own choices. 

What we see today is no different than what happened throughout history. What happened in Salem happened in other parts of the world because leaders lied to the people they were supposed to lead.

I hear people scream about their religious freedom being taken away from them. The opposite is the truth. They want to control others and remove their freedom from them. That is not what this country or the Christian faith was built on. The founding fathers looked back at the history of the witchcraft trials and attempted to prevent one faith-based group from controlling others. If we lose that freedom, then all others are in jeopardy too.

I chose to not attend church services after decades of dedication. The reason is simple. I didn't find what I was looking for in them, but discovered far more than I imagined praying to God on my own. That is the power Jesus told us about when He was asked to teach the people how to pray. He began with the words, "Our Father." That gave us permission to pray directly to God.

Those manipulated by their religious leaders are no different than the others throughout history. They used it to do far more than simply control their followers. They used it to gain power and wealth, feeding off the "faithful" while preaching hatred of others. There was nothing hateful about anything Jesus preached. There was nothing hateful in His actions. Considering as the Son of God, He could have wiped out the Roman army but showed compassion to a Roman Centurion, mercy to a man possessed by demons, and healed people without judgment, hate was not in Him.

So how we've arrived in this time and place allowing it again. We are in a spiritual battle between powers. You do not have to be Sam and Dean Winchester hunting down demons or Nick Burkhardt fighting evil because they could see the others for what they were inside. So can you. You can see it in what they do, more than what they say. You can see it in how they treat others, not in how others treat them.

I am not saying that "religious" people are not spiritual as well. It is possible. Spiritual people do not need another human to hear their confessions. They go directly to God. Spiritual people do not need a prayer circle held by a church group but can be part of one no matter where they are. We do a lot for others and ask for nothing in return. Most of the time, we don't even tell people what we're doing. I give to charities all the time but do not seek a deduction on my taxes. I pray for people without telling them. That is how I choose to live my life.

What I've seen going on in far too many churches when they go against the faith they claim to have is all too familiar. They are preaching hatred, judgment, and lies, and liars are saying that what Christ said is nothing more than "liberal talking points" while at the same time they claim to be serving Him. They want to control the lives of others and then whine about not being able to rule over them. I guess it makes sense to them since they've already proven they only care about themselves. When you think about how low the percentage of people attending church is now, it is easy to see how a spiritual life is preferable for many of us.

If you want to know about the spiritual life, this is a good place to start to discover just how much power and beauty are within you.
What Is Spirituality?
Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.

Some may find that their spiritual life is intricately linked to their association with a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. Others may pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Still others seek meaning through their connections to nature or art. Like your sense of purpose, your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships.

I am a solitary spiritual person and a Christian. I want to live my life the way Christ taught, not the way the church has manipulated the beauty of His message. That means I must accept people as they are. If they need help, it isn't up to me to judge them. Only God knows what they really are inside, just as He will judge me for not helping when I can do it.  I know I can only control what I choose to do and they are free to make their own choices. 

All churches are not bad. I had a great priest growing up. I attended that church most of most of my life. One of my best friends is a pastor and a fabulous one. I worked with her for a couple of years and saw her spiritual power, especially when she sang. 

The thing is if you are struggling after surviving something that made you question God or your faith, you may be asking the wrong questions to the wrong people. Too many of us tried talking to a faith leader and left with less hope. Even more of us tried to talk to people we knew in church and ended up being judged by them as if what happened to us was our fault. They'd ask us questions wondering why we didn't do something or why we did what we did to cause it. Then the worst thing they'd say is telling us that God only gives us what we can handle. As if that was going to comfort us at all when they basically just said it was caused by God!

I found more comfort and support talking to other survivors after they were pulled out of the abyss. I found it astonishing when they wanted to help others the way they were helped. Such inspirational messages empowered so many others to do the same, including me. Had others not shared their stories of struggling to heal, I doubt I would have done what I did all these years.

Find what brings you comfort, support, and healing because #PTSD is a spiritual battle as well as a mental and physical one. Add spiritual healing to your to-do list and find a sense of peace that no one can take away. If you cannot find it in a religious building, remember you don't need to be in one. I think that is an overlooked message Christ gave. He preached most of the time outside and to Our Father. 

You can walk away from that building without having to walk away from God or the faith you have. Discover the power and beauty of the original messages. Examine scriptures fully to see the clues of what was in the beginning while discovering what were the contradictions within other scriptures. Acknowledge that humans wrote all of it, delivering the messages they were paid to deliver, and what they wanted known as much as they left out what they wanted hidden. The answers are there. The answers are also inside your soul. Well worth the time it takes to discover them. I know I was saved many times and helped by strangers. To me, they will always be spiritual beings sent to do what they could to help someone they did not know for no other reason than they cared. I want to live my life the same way.

Monday, November 20, 2023

PTSD is a spiritual wound

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 6, 2023

We live in a complicated world. That's something we've come to accept as reality. While we acknowledge the existence of goodness and evil within others. We do not understand both live inside of us. We know there are wars around the world. News from Israel and Gaza have replaced what Russia is doing in Ukraine. People suffer for what rulers do while no one knows what to do to save the people. So why don't we see a war of powers all around us?

When we want to know the answer to something or learn something new, we believe it's all within a search engine such as Google. Google collects billions of information. How they do it should be the first thing we learn, but we avoid that primary question. It is easier to trust it knows all than to come to the conclusion we live in a delusionary comfort zone.

Apparently, the world once again managed to create a trap for those searching for more than others know. Outcasts have been forced into hiding since the beginning of time out of fear those in power would lose their control over others. Examples of this are found within clues scribes wrote leaving trails into the mysteries of the unrecorded. Google won't find the answers for you because these answers have never been written.

History is written by humans and as such they do not always know if what they are recording is all there is to know. Even more to the point, we don't know if they write all they know or just what they want to be known by others. There are clues to this in one of the most-read books but few dare to wonder because it will lead them to question what they have been told about the faith they live by.

Begin with the fact that there are other gods besides the God. Shocking? Hardly. It has been known since Moses gave the Ten Commandments and Thou shall have no other gods before me was right at the top of the list. God acknowledged them. He did not command people to stop believing in them but wanted none to be held to a higher place of honor than His. Had that fact been valued, there would have been fewer wars when one group of religious zealots was trying to obliterate all others for worshiping what they deemed as false gods. He was the judge among the other gods. If your eyebrows just went up, you're not alone.

In some parts of the Bible, consulting the dead was condemned, yet churches not only venerate dead Saints, but they also support praying to them. Scriptures are written to condemn those who see the future or what we call fortune tellers, yet venerate others because they are called prophets. There were 12 of them. So how can gifts of the spirit be an abomination as well as holy? 

When you read the clues it is easy to see that when people used their spiritual gifts to harm someone it was an abomination against the Creator. When they were using their gifts to help someone, they were honored for the blessings within them.
This is a partial list of those gifts.
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit thereby:
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.
11 But all of these that one and the selfsame Spirit worketh, apportioning to every man individually as He will.
The answer is while souls were given gifts to benefit others, some made the choice to benefit themselves. They surrendered to the war of powers within them. Titles were given to the wicked and all with the label were condemned. Consider the title of a witch. Anyone called a witch was hated even though most were using their gifts to help others. Jesus Himself was accused of having His powers come from a demon.
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, except by Beelzebub, the prince of devils.”

Accusations spread to all those who were with Him. The thing is, not all those with Him were known. Two clues to this have been overlooked. While the 12 famous ones were known by their names,  there were many more with them. Luke 10:1-23 has the first clue when it was known that 72 were sent to serve God and perform miracles. No one knows their names, their stories, or what happened to them afterward. Still, there is another clue. There were 120 gathered to vote on a replacement for Judas and Peter called them "brothers and sisters." This implies while we've been led to believe there were only men serving God with Jesus, women were held with equal status.

Who were they? What did they do with their powers? Where did they go? Historians don't know the answers because no one wrote about them. Really odd considering how vital they were to the spread of Christianity. This interview on Biblegateway with Rev. Dr. John Teter sums it up.

What do you mean, “I would like every Christian to see themselves in the anonymity of the 72”?

Rev. Dr. John Teter: We know very little about the 72 that Jesus trained for mission. All we know is that Jesus communicated with them personally to join his mission team. And we know they obeyed. I think it’s intentional that Luke puts this mission event in the very next chapter after the 12 are sent for mission. We see the 12 go and think to ourselves, they are the apostles and they should do that. But then when the 72 do the exact same thing we’re internally challenged that this might be our calling as well. Luke gives no details about the 72. We don’t know their age, gender, race, socio-economics, education, marital status, spiritual gifts, or even their names. In keeping them completely anonymous, Luke is inviting us to see ourselves in the mission.
Therein lies the mystery of what we do not know. Or do we? We know Christianity spread around the world in loving ways, as well as horrible ones. Unfortunately, people used the power of the name Jesus to control others and blamed evil acts on "God's will," instead of their own. Nothing those horrible people did had any kind of connection to what Jesus taught. 

He told His followers how to treat others. He did not command any acts against others. As a matter of fact, when a Roman Centurion went to Him for help to heal his servant, Jesus did as he requested without demanding the Centurion did anything to deserve it. Why? Because the Centurion showed great love for his servant and proved he believed Jesus could and would deliver a miracle.
The Faith of the Centurion
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
We have been led to believe things that are simply only part of the history of our faith but that isn't the only thing we have been misled about. Think about all the different faiths and how you now know there were many other gods since the beginning of time. Think about what you now know about the gifts of the spirit and how those gifts were used as intended by many more than the general public has been told about. Now think about how it was written that God is spirit and since we are made in His image, we are spirit, the spirit He created, sent equipped with gifts, and must pray to Him in spirit

What gifts were you sent with? What if you have them and don't know about them? What if you were sent for a purpose but suffer because you don't know what it is?

You may have heard that if you do not attend religious services, or attend the "wrong ones" you are not a believer. Now you know they are wrong. Jesus prayed outside. Some believe he did so because He was not welcomed in the temple. That may be part of the reason however, the reason is far more simple and loving. He preached and prayed outside with all the people that chose to listen to Him. He healed people without interrogation or demands they convert to follow Him. He became an enemy of the powerful because He told the people they should pray directly to His Father. That His Father was also their Father.

One of the biggest struggles people with #PTSD have is a spiritual battle. We wonder if God did it to us or saved us. Depending on our understanding, we either abandon our beliefs or draw closer to Him. Should we abandon what we believe, then God becomes an enemy, and angels protecting us are replaced with demons determined to destroy us. They feed off whatever negative emotions and thoughts we have to remove all hope our wounds can heal. Now you know the battle we fight is against spiritual forces. 

We also have to battle false beliefs other people have about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some think that we are weak and can't handle what we survived. Others have the idea that our suffering came from God's judgment against us. They see the changes in us as evil taking over. Sometimes we may think that as well. Should we view our survival in a secondary place from the trauma itself, we can view the event as punishment. If people are telling us something like "God only gives us what we can handle," then they reinforce that thought. The truth is, God gives us what we need to handle it and everything we need to heal is within us. 

Just as the spiritual gifts are within you, so is your ability to heal what was done to you. You have the ability to defeat the negative emotions already there but you may not know you have them. PTSD is a mental, physical, and spiritual wound that enters you. 

Change came the second you survived whatever did it to you. You may think that only veterans fight PTSD, but the truth is, that survivors of all different events fight their own battles. Trying to fight them alone doesn't work since you are not just fighting what you believe, you are fighting what others believe because they do not know what they need to know. That's why it often feels as if we're beating our heads against the wall with no way out.

So what do we do? We learn all we can about what we need to know and then find others like us. We don't try to fight this battle alone. Try to use the way the members of the military fight enemies. They do not try to fight alone. When they are outnumbered, they call in reinforcements. They call for everything they can so they survive. They do not deny they need help. You need to do the same. We all do.

We try to explain it to others in our lives because they are just as confused as we are. They look for easy answers as to why we are not the way we used to be. We need to give them the right answers by letting them know we are struggling with the changes we went through from living our normal lives to surviving what we did. We can also give them hope that with help, we can change again from struggling into being a survivor of it as well as defeating PTSD itself.

While we cannot be "cured" we can heal the wounds we have and change again only this time for the better.

That is what I tried to answer in The Ministers Of The Mystery Series. The Scribe Of Salem, The Visionary Of Salem, and the 13 Minister Of Salem explores people sent to help heal the world and fight against those using their gifts for their own sake. Different causes of PTSD are included with victorious characters going on to help others because someone helped them heal. After all, that is what love does when we are shown the way. You can be assured that when you accept help and heal, you will seek to help others heal too because you know what it was like when you did. You know they're suffering and want to make sure they know your victory!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Spirituality and Trauma, what you believe may help you heal

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 22, 2023

After you survive "it" all too often you wonder if God did it to you or did He saved you. It's hard to make sense out of coming out of "it" alive. It's even harder when others do not.
I know I wondered after the over ten times in my life. Everyone I've helped over the last 40 years wondered. After probably thousands of news articles, none of the people in them were sure what the answer was right away. The other thing most of us have in common is that when we realize that God didn't do it to us, we're a lot happier and our healing is greater than anything we ever expected.

This isn't about "religion" but about our spiritual life. The beliefs we hold and, well, all too often keep private. Our spiritual life is the one that matters. I no longer attend church. I have never given up, nor will I ever want to spend a day without that part of me actively communicating with God. You may use the term "Higher Power" to define your connection. The bottom line is that none of that really matters. The thing that does matter is you are not here alone wondering if you did something wrong and the suffering coming after trauma was a punishment for something you did in a past life. Ok, honestly, I've used that before to explain to someone why I felt I was suffering, but it was more of a joke than reality.

When I was training as a Chaplain, we were reminded of stupid things people said when they didn't know what to say to someone suffering. The biggest stupidest thing was, "God only gives us what we can handle," and then they expect that to encourage someone to ask God for help. Oh, sure as if telling someone God did it to them would cause them to ask for anything from Him. Anyway, the proper thing to say because it is true is, that God is there to help you heal from it.

People do the crappy stuff and God has nothing to do with the evil things they do. If you know anything about all the things in the Bible you don't hear in church, it is packed full of people using their free will to do bad things. The awesome thing is, it is even more packed with people doing good because they can, someone did it for them and they want to pass it on.  It feeds your spirit to help someone else and expect nothing in return other than the priceless feeling you walk away with. 

Now, take that feeling and imagine how God feels when He helps us. After all, He created us and knows us better than anyone else. As for me, I take great comfort in knowing that no matter how much I can screw things up, how much I can get wrong, He hasn't given up on me and still loves me. 

I'm not alone on this as you'll see from the National Center for PTSD.  One of the things I had to do was to find out where people were spiritually before I could help them. Over 90% said they believed in God and most believed Jesus was and is the Son Of God but less than 20% of them said they attended church or any house of worship. That says a lot right there.

You can be religious and spiritual but spirituality does not separate us from others. It connects us to one another and we are able to heal with their help. Others are able to heal with ours and, we heal even more. That is the greatest blessing of all. There is nothing more powerful than that.

Spirituality and Trauma: Professionals Working Together

PTSD: National Center for PTSD

What Is Spirituality?
Spirituality is a personal experience with many definitions. Spirituality might be defined as "an inner belief system providing an individual with meaning and purpose in life, a sense of the sacredness of life, and a vision for the betterment of the world." Other definitions emphasize "a connection to that which transcends the self." The connection might be to God, a higher power, a universal energy, the sacred, or to nature. Researchers in the field of spirituality have suggested three useful dimensions for thinking about one's spirituality:
Spiritual practices
Spiritual experiences
Currently, in the US, opinion surveys consistently find that most people endorse a belief in God or a higher power. In a 2007 Gallup Poll, 86% of respondents indicated a belief in God, while only 6% stated they did not believe in God (4). Many of these individuals would describe religion or spirituality as the most important source of strength and direction for their lives. Because spirituality plays such a significant and central role in the lives of many people, it is likely to be affected by trauma, and in turn affect the survivor's reaction to the trauma.
Research suggests that for many trauma survivors, spirituality may be a resource that can be associated with resilience and recovery. However, for some, the circumstances of the trauma may lead to the questioning of important and previously sustaining beliefs. This can lead to spiritual struggle or even loss of faith. It is important for helping professionals to be comfortable asking about how spirituality has been affected by trauma, and to what role spirituality is playing within the recovery process following trauma.
Assess spiritual beliefs and needs
Depending on their beliefs, trauma survivors may benefit from adding a spiritual dimension to their recovery. A brief assessment of the impact of trauma on spirituality and the role spirituality might play in recovery has been suggested for use following disasters (16). These questions are likely a useful starting place for survivors of other types of trauma as well.

Are you affiliated with a religious or spiritual community?

Do you see yourself as a religious or spiritual person? If so, in what way?

Has the event affected your religiousness and if so, in what ways?

Has your religion or spirituality been involved in the way you have coped with this event? If so, in what way?

Providers interested in assessing these issues more systematically can use a brief questionnaire measure of multiple domains of religion and spirituality that was created by the NIH (6). learn more here

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

So, if you want to call me a witch

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 20, 2023

There was a lifetime joke in my family about me being a witch. We lived near Salem MA, and visited there several times a year. My oldest brother gave me my first baby broom. When my daughter was young as soon as she discovered we were going to Salem for the day she'd smile and say that we were going to visit my relatives. Well, she had to be reminded if they were my relatives, they were her's too!

This may seem strange considering I not only went to church, I was involved in it, taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and served on a charity board. Later in life, I was an Administrator of Christian Education and then ended up becoming a Chaplain. So how did this "witch of the family" end up doing all that? Easy! The spiritual power I was born with.

Season of the Witch: Mind-Body-Spirit Books

Publishers Weekly
By Lynn Garrett
Aug 02, 2019

Witchcraft is one of the hot trends in the mind-body-spirit category
“Mystical Wellness”

Mental and physical health is under siege in the modern world, and preserving and enhancing wellness has become a central cultural quest. In Wellness Witch: Healing Potions, Soothing Spells, and Empowering Rituals for Magical Self-Care (Running Press, Sept.), author Nikki Van De Car offers rituals, spells, and recipes for healing remedies—tinctures, tonics, mantras, and meditations—that aim to unite body and spirit for what she calls “mystical wellness.” “Everyone’s connection to their own spirituality is different, and my goal here is to invite readers to investigate what feels right to them,” she writes. “Whether it’s hearkening back to the herb witch practices of our ancestors, or calling on their own intuition to create something entirely new, there is something deeply powerful—even magical—in making something yourself, for yourself. For me, wellness magic isn’t just something you do, it’s a way of life.” Van De Car is the author of Practical Magic and Magical Places. (learn more here)
It may be hard to understand for some readers but when you consider how people once viewed those using their gifts of the spirit to help humanity while asking for nothing in return have been recorded throughout history. If you know anything from the bible, consider the following examples of what you will not hear repeated in church, yet is there for you to find.
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
You only hear about the 12. Not the others. When they returned, this is what was reported.
Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
Acts 1:15-16 lists their numbers at even more.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus.
And there you see there were far more than just 12 with Him. You also see that the Holy Spirit was active in what Judas did.

And in John 4:24 you see why we know that when you hear anyone say "In God's Image, it is the spirit that lives within all of us and not our bodies.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Each of us has gifts within us that we were born with. I suggest you read all of 1 Corinthians 12 for the rest of this.
7 The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. 8 To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 9 To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11 All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.
One thing that keeps popping up lately is when some religious Christians condemn those whom they call witches. What they ignore is the reality that the only ones being condemned in the Scriptures are harming others and not helping them heal. Those condemning people using their spiritual gifts to help others are either uninformed or living in fear of such goodness.

Many of those accused of witchcraft in Salem and around the world were using their spiritual gifts to heal and were hated by others. We see that happening today. We all need to heal our minds if we have #PTSD. We also need to heal our bodies since our minds affect our bodies. The thing we need to heal most of all is our spirituality. That is what makes us who we are. Being able to turn to a healer is a wonderful thing. Being told they are evil and banned by scriptures is BS!

As for the word witch, I am not offended by it. After all, Jesus was accused of serving Beelzebub by the Pharisees. They wanted Him dead. That fact shows that Jesus was not religious since the religion He was born into wanted Him dead. He prayed and preached outside with the people and gave away what He had to give without asking for anything in return. He did not interrogate anyone. He didn't ask for payment. He didn't even ask the Roman Centurion to renounce the gods he worshiped or to walk away from serving in the Roman army.

This is also why most of the people I helped over the years said they were spiritual but not religious. We are able to contact God directly. That reassurance also came from Jesus when He taught the people to pray to their Father wherever they were.

So, if you want to call me a witch, I suggest Ekklesia witch. It means "called out" and became the "church assembly" but not the way you may think. It was a gathering. Where did Jesus gather the people? Outside~

Kathie Costos
Author of The Scribe Of Salem, The Visionary Of Salem, and the 13th Minister Of Salem where you can open your eyes to what has been there all along.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Wondering if it came from God, or Satan?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 29, 2023

If you have #PTSD or PTSI or PTS, whatever acronym you're comfortable with, you may have heard someone you know tell you that God only gives us what we can handle. If you have, for right now, go back to a time when people not only heard stupid things people said to explain suffering and terrible things happening, and then accused people of witchcraft.
While we do not know what all the people of Salem (or around the world) thought about the events behind the trials, we know what people say today. Most of it is based on their individual beliefs. These are not the ones they express openly but their private beliefs.

Human nature would have them looking at those suffering at the hands of the accused witches and wondering if they could be the next. Others would be looking at the accused witches and wonder if some vindictive person would point their finger at them or not. The 20 people put to death may have thought their execution put an end to their suffering but those languishing in jail would have wondered if there was any hope left for them before it was their turn to have a rope put around their neck, or being crushed to death. Some did not survive to see the day of their trial and died in jail. Some were tortured to the point where they would have confessed to being Satan himself if it would stop the torture. Not a far stretch to see how they could have wondered where God was and why He allowed it to happen to innocent people.

They were religious people, attending church and hearing the pastors preach their sermons.

One such pastor was John Hale that would later come to his senses, but it took his wife being accused before it happened.
Reverend Hale testified in 1692 about his parishioner Sarah Bishop, who lived with her husband Edward on the border of Beverly and Salem Village. Hale had interceded in a disagreement between Sarah and her neighbor, Christian Trask a few years before. Trask, a mentally ill woman, complained about the noise and activities in the Bishops’ unlicensed tavern, which apparently went long into the night. Hale tried to keep the peace between the two. A few years later, Trask was found dead, her throat cut, small scissors lying nearby. Was this suicide or murder? Hale observed the body and felt some kind of witchcraft was afoot. Nevertheless, Sarah Bishop was not accused of witchcraft at this time, although both she and her husband were accused of witchcraft on April 21, 1692. (In a transcription, Hale referred to Sarah as “Goody Bishop, wife of Edward Bishop” which led to many years of confusion. There was another Goody Bishop, married to another Edward Bishop living in Salem Town – and that was Bridget, first to be executed for witchcraft in 1692. The descriptions of the two women became combined in the history books until the error was discovered in recent years.)
In November of 1692, very late in the hysteria, Wenham’s Mary Herrick spoke to Wenham Reverend Joseph Gerrish and Reverend Hale, accusing Hale’s wife Sarah of spectral torment. Although Sarah Hale was never officially accused of witchcraft, historians believe this event certainly helped to change Reverend Hale’s support of the trials. (Salem Witch Museum)

And yet another pastor was not only accused of witchcraft but almost ten years after he left Salem, he was brought back from Maine and hung.

In July of 1692, Reverend Hale spoke to confessed witch Ann Foster in Salem jail, where she told him about a witches’ picnic and about her fear of Reverend George Burroughs and Martha Carrier, the king and queen of hell, whose specters had threatened to kill her. (Salem Witch Museum)

There was an apology from those leaders after the trials ended. They called it a Day of Atonement

Five years after the Salem witchcraft trials, the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution that a day of general fasting be held on January 15, 1697. The resolution was adopted so God's people could offer up prayers for God to help them in their errors and keep them from repeating such sins which could only bring God's judgment on the land.
That means first they blamed Satan for the suffering. Then they blamed God for judging them and making them suffer for what they did. So which was it?

Was it all sent by Satan or God? That is a question human nature always asks after surviving something horrible. As someone being misled or the family of the accused, or the survivors, everyone searches for a reason as to why it happened. We are no different from them. When we survive we search for some sort of reason for it happening. Did evil target us? Did God allow it to happen? Did He save us? Or worse, was it God targeting us as judgment?

The answer we receive from most religious leaders is pure speculation. All too often they jump to a conclusion that makes sense to them. Sadly, all too often, they say something like, "God only gives us what we can handle," because they don't have a clue as to why it happened.

If you don't believe in God and assume there are good, as well as bad people in the world, you can tell people that you don't wonder why it happened and everyone will accept that as an answer. If you are in a position of being a religious leader, then saying you simply don't know, won't ease their minds.

The truth is, while everything happens for a reason, it is no cosmic power behind it. It is what people decided to do for whatever they believe. If it was a natural disaster, it happened because you lived where you ended up living and nothing more. If it was something someone did to you, then it was what they decided to do. Remember that each of us is capable of doing good things for someone, or doing terrible things to someone. Those causing your trauma decided to do it to you and most of the time, while you became their target, most of the time, it had nothing do to with you. It wasn't personal. You were just there and if you weren't, then it would have been someone else. 

That's how I had to see what happened to me far too many times. Even when my 1st husband tried to kill me and then stalked me for almost two years, I knew it didn't matter how good I was to him. I ended up understanding that it would have happened to anyone he had a relationship with because he had no clue what love was. Eventually, it allowed me to be able to love someone else afterward and we've been together for over 40 years.

I came to an understanding that God didn't do it to me but helped me heal. He did what He could because He did not mess with my free will or anyone else's. The same way it was during the witch trials. People had the free will to stand up and fight for the truth or stand silently allowing it to happen while the people doing the evil acts against innocent people blamed God. Since they heard about God's judgment and wrath from the pulpit, it would have been easy for them to accept. It allowed them to swallow any decency left within them while greeting the people responsible instead of wishing they were the ones on trial for what they did in the name of God.

The lesson did not come from sitting on a bench in a building called Holy. It didn't come from a person standing in front of everyone representing God. It came from my spirit reaching out to God and He being the one I trust, turn to, and seek guidance from wherever I was. After all that is how we should pray. "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Don't let anyone tell you that being a "religious person" is the only way to be right with God when scripture proves them wrong. 

Yet all too often, religious people disregard spiritual people seeking a personal connection with God. If the people of Salem didn't worship God and follow the rules of the church, they became a target. All the requirements Jesus spoke about were forgotten because they were willing to lie, mistreat the poor, and stand in judgment of others with nothing more than the lies from the lips of the accusers.

Good people eventually did stop the trials but had to live with the guilt they allowed it to go on as long as they did. Their victims turned into survivors. We can only guess what they did for the rest of their lives.

If you want to heal, stop listening to what other people say. Stop allowing them to stand in judgment over something they do not understand. Reach out to God for help to heal and watch for people able to help you do it. Most of them were helped by someone else. Then you can turn around and help someone in return for their kindness to you.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

The Scribe Of Salem not written to make church people comfy

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 27, 2023

How many times have you read a review and wondered what was behind it? The answer in this review, while mostly positive, the reviewer wrote that the characters were so well developed that "I felt like I knew them," but then wrote how they didn't seem real because of all the scriptures. Guess it made sense to the reviewer as a person with a minister in the family. The thing is, the Ministers Of The Mystery Series was not intended to make church people comfortable. It is intended to open a world where love and miracles still exist, even for those who never set foot in a church, or feel they didn't belong there.
When a religion based on love and miracles is used against people they hate it becomes a war of powers.
This is the review that shows not all "religious" people feel the same way. Consider I was one of them believing that the Greek Orthodox faith was the right one, and everyone else was wrong. I grew up to notice what all of them had in common and how the man-made rules had nothing to do with uniting but causing the diving. I was the Administrator of Christian Education for a Presbyterian church and wanted to focus on what the two faiths had in common but some saw only the difference between them and me. One of my best friends is a Presbyterian minister. (She loved the book by the way.) She preaches on YouTube with Musings of a Preacher Lady as a sci-fi lover as well as pastor of a church in Texas. Others do not view scriptures the same way.
Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite ****
In the first book of the Christian fiction series Ministers Of The Mystery, The Scribe of Salem by Kathie Costos, protagonist Chris Papadopoulos ventures to Salem, Massachusetts to pay tribute to a deceased friend with others who knew him well. He meets with longtime friends from when he was a journalist and war correspondent, one of whom tells him an old flame with a troubled history named Brenda has died. Chris is at a crossroads and is introduced to Mandy, a theological savant who Chris connects with on multiple levels. Chris becomes the unlikely beneficiary of an inheritance, relocates to Salem, and reinvents himself as an outstanding novelist. Mandy serves as his inspiration, and Chris is driven by prayer and devotion to God. His friends share the same view and spread messages bound in scripture and earthly angels for the betterment of others. Everything is on the ascent for Chris until an extortion plot dredges up a former relationship that rocks him to the core. “On the night I needed it the most, miracles walked into my life one after another.” 
The Scribe of Salem by Kathie Costos puts the transcendent nature of pure belief at the core with an openly evangelical story and a cast of characters who have experienced their own miracles. The standout to me is a friend and bartender named Ed who is arguably the starting point in Chris's spiritual pilgrimage. Costos develops her characters thoroughly so I felt like I knew them. However, despite this, I struggled with their not coming across as real people. Their discussions were almost entirely scripture based and even as a reader with a proud, devout Baptist minister in my immediate family, the way the characters spoke came across to me as awkward. That said, the plot points are good, the pandemic setting in New England lends to the atmosphere, and Chris is a character we do want to root for. At the end of the day, those are the qualities that round it all out.
The scriptures used are buried in the dialog; if you read it as an eBook, there are links to show where it came from. Almost all of them are not ones you'll hear in a church sermon. Even if you did, you may not have thought about the meaning behind those words.

Think of the Bible as a spiritual book instead of a "religious" one. Religion is what divides the one faith Jesus came to share. Humans used all His love as the power to hold over others. That message was abundantly clear during the Salem Witchcraft trials along with all the other times religion was used to either convert or destroy instead of comfort and empower. 

When your life seems like one endless series of doom and gloom trying to take over, and you do not know the truth about what it all means, it is easy to blame God instead of other humans doing what they can to use your pain for their own gain. When you know the power is all within you to change your life, as well as the lives of others, that is a miracle.

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite *****
The Scribe of Salem: Ministers Of The Mystery by Kathie Costos is a Christian fiction novel that revolves around Chris Papadopoulos, a former war reporter. In Salem, Massachusetts, Chris reunites with his friend Bill Gibson and learns of the death of Bill's sister Brenda. Chris joins his military comrades to honor their fallen comrade, discovering an intriguing woman named Mandy. Chris embarks on a transformative journey, seeking help from Mandy to regain control of his life. Inspired by their encounters and encouraged by friends, Chris finds the strength to write a book that becomes a bestseller, offering solace during the trying times of a pandemic. Chris finds unexpected fame in a series of events that catapult him into a public recognition, but when Chris faces a harrowing blackmail attempt, both how strong his faith in God is and how solid his group of friends is are tested to their fullest.

The parallels between the persecution of witches and the persecution of open Christians set the foundational theme in The Scribe of Salem by Kathy Costos. The novel is a no-holds-barred story of faith and will resonate well with readers who enjoy Christian fiction in a way where scripture and conversational sermons run through almost every scene, as opposed to the more nuanced approach that is found in most fiction within the same genre. Costos' style might not be as elegant, but it certainly does get the message across. I liked the contemporary setting and the way the characters are confronted with incidents surrounding COVID-19 protocols. As an observer, these feel really authentic and do well in exploring the group's unique contributions in the fight against chaos and darkness, to which the pandemic adds an additional layer, and realizing the profound impact of their connections and gifts. The full circle that the ending brings is satisfying in that there is closure; a relief given the possibility of a book in a series ending with a cliffhanger. Recommended.

You may think you are powerless to change things. You may think you are only one person and can't do much at all. Think again on both parts especially if you have PTSD. Too many miracles have already happened because someone decided to take one more try at healing and then healed more than he ever dreamed of.

If you want to know what Ministers of the Mystery have to tell you, read The Scribe Of Salem and begin your own journey to using the gifts you already have inside of you!

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Salem Witch Trials, apparently, some people learned nothing from history!

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 24, 2023

We may have thought the religious battle ended with the Salem Witch Trials but apparently, some people learned nothing from history!

Ex-Marine calls for action after GOP rep grills VA official on 'faith-based' PTSD partnerships
Van Orden said Campbell's response suggested the department is not actively working with "wildly successful" programs "because they are faith-based – which according to you guys are 'non-evidence-based'."

That is a bunch of bull! For 40 years I've seen it all and if you go to the National Center For PTSD, which, by the way, addresses PTSD for all Americans, you'll see clearly how they provide a Clergy Tool so that veterans can make their own choices as to their personal faith. The evidence is clear that when the mind-body and spiritual needs are addressed, based on their own beliefs, there is greater healing. To fund or push one faith-based group over another would go against the First Amendment.

The First Amendment
This is what people get wrong all the time. Everyone wants the ability to make their own choices and have their rights protected. The problem comes when some want their rights protected by removing the rights of others. The Founding Fathers understood human nature enough they saw a time coming when some people would want to control others using the government to do it. Considering that the Salem Witchcraft Trials were the basis for this Amendment, they wanted to make sure it never happened again.

The Salem Witch Trials
Many people in Puritanical Salem Massachusetts died because they were different, and the Puritans were afraid they could not control them easily.

Many people in Puritanical Salem did not conform to the societal beliefs and ended up losing their lives as a result. There were many rules and if citizens did not follow all of those rules, they were cast out. The religion of the Puritans was very strict and “the Puritan community rewarded conformity-you were expected to fit in and do what everybody else did” (Mills 15). The Puritans desire for conformity was so strong that they wanted to get rid of anyone that was different. The trials were an excuse for the people of Salem to expunge of all those people who were different. Witches were thought to be able to harm people and therefore were feared greatly. The Puritans feared the Devil and God equally and “they believed the Devil was real, and had the intent to influence and harm."
Today we see people just like the Puritans. They seek to control others and when they are met with people standing up for their own rights, they claim that their religious freedom is being taken away from them. WOW! This is why so many people have lost faith in the government's ability and willingness to stand up for all of our rights.

Their beliefs are their own and should remain that way but they cannot see that power ends with them so that everyone else retains the same right.

Spending all these years helping people on a spiritual basis, no matter what they personally believed, with mutual respect, worked wonders! They saw their own power to reach out to God or whatever Higher Power they believed in directly and to see whatever caused their PTSD was not sent by God as some sort of punishment. It got them to understand the difference between stupid things they heard, such as "God only give us what we can handle," meaning they were told God did it to them. It was more beneficial for them to hear, "God is there to get them through it," so they know they are not fighting the survivor battle alone. It was not up to me to try to convert them to accept what I believed but to empower them to decide on their own to explore faith through a spiritual lens.

Scriptures support this and are there to be found. If those seeking to control others spent more time reading them and less time trying to corrupt the God-given gift of free will, they would be filled instead of emptying their own souls. He did not seek to control anyone, so why is it they think they can? What we see today, just as in Salem, is not a matter of faith but a matter of control.

What makes all this worse is when reporters fail to understand this. No matter what the topic is on social issues, they lump Christians together. The fact is there are many Christian houses of worship with different viewpoints. There are many different faiths in this country and they are left out of the discussion. While the claim this is a Christian nation is a valid one, the truth is the majority do believe in Jesus but do not agree on everything. This is why there are "Estimations show there are more than 200 Christian denominations in the U.S. and a staggering 45,000 globally, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity."

When most people hear something about Christianity being attacked, and God taken out of schools, they get upset no matter which denomination they belong to. Yet, when they think past the word and remember why they chose their affiliation, they acknowledge there are many different faiths in this country. When they hear a term such as "pro-life" used to defend the desire to control what others do in their own lives, they condemn them. Yet when they think past what their church deems right and wrong, acknowledging other religious groups do not hold the same view or need to be in control, they become repulsed enough to stand up for everyone needing to make the decision and condemn the attackers.

When we allow one group to take control over all others, we go against the God we claim to believe in and the foundation of the country we claim to love!

Friday, April 21, 2023

The Scribe Of Salem: viewpoint regarding spirituality is this book’s best asset

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 21, 2023

"As they talk about how all their lives seem to have taken a dark turn, a name was brought up - Mandy. A savior, angel, or witch."

The Scribe Of Salem by Kathie Costos

Some were witnessing the miracles Jesus and His disciples delivered believing they were miracles, yet others believed it was sorcery. After all, how does one explain the ability of other humans to accomplish such things right before their eyes? In our time, many believe miracles stopped happening. The truth is, miracles and miracle workers are all around us every day.

The Scribe Of Salem, as well as The Visionary Of Salem and 13th Minister Of Salem, hold my prayers for you. Far too many survivors of traumatic events walked away from them physically, but could not from the memories of them. The miracle workers we encountered after surviving were the ones that came to help us reach a place where our wounds were taken care of and we felt safe again. Since most traumatic events had a basis in evil acts, the miracle workers proved to us that their goodness conjured the fuel for our healing.  I know because I survived over 10 events and it all came with me. I remember the strangers coming to help me for my sake and they set their own lives aside to help. 

I also remember some people, with no understanding of what came with surviving, saying things to me that made it worse. They tried to comfort me by saying, "God never gives us more than we can handle," as if the event was by His Hand. How on earth would something like that help me if I thought God did it to me? How could I pray for help from Him, if He condemned me and sent me the pain I needed to heal?

The day I turned away from churches is the day I began to be closer to God. I didn't need a building to do it for me. I had a place in my home where I could pray directly to My Father, the way Jesus said I should. I didn't need a group of other flawed humans to decide what message in the Bible I would hear. I was able to discover what the churches never taught as I held the Book in my hands.

That is the difference between being a religious person and a spiritual one. Some religious people are also spiritual. That's not something I have a problem with, since I was the same until I discovered the closer I pulled to the church, the further away I felt from God. That is also why these books are not welcomed by most Christian readers.

This is a new review from Readers' Favorite.
Reviewed by: Risah Salazar
Review Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Risah Salazar for Readers’ Favorite

The Scribe of Salem: Ministers of the Mystery by Kathie Costos finds Christopher “Chris” Papadopoulos trying to nurse a broken heart at The Bishop Hotel bar. He is a complete mess of a man whose marriage and career ended badly. His war veteran comrades appear unexpectedly, one after the other at the bar. As they talk about how all their lives seem to have taken a dark turn, a name was brought up - Mandy. A savior, angel, or witch. No one could pinpoint what she is, but one thing is for sure: she heals. You do not find her - she finds you. Next, he meets a couple - Alex and Mary - who, like Mandy it seems, would also turn his life around for the better. Revelation after revelation makes Chris confused but this huge puzzle eventually leads him to rebuild his faith.

Kathie Costos adopts a conversational tone in The Scribe of Salem. The smooth flow of the story helps with the world-building and characterization. The progressive viewpoint regarding spirituality is this book’s best asset. The text reiterates that being religious is different from being spiritual and that the latter is usually preferable. Costos makes a compelling argument through this narrative that can be appreciated by people from all walks of life. Readers who believe in something will strengthen their faith as they read on, while non-believers will surely discover something interesting, no matter how small.
Let's be honest. We live in a time when far too many people only claim to be Christian. They do not display the qualities Jesus preached about and lived them. They spew contempt, hatred, judgment, and rage fueled by a perverse belief that they are the only ones with moral high ground. We've seen it all before. It was what happened in Salem when "Christians" decided that lying, hating and torture were worthy means to end their enemies.

No one was safe during the witch trials because everyone could find themselves accused of witchcraft. They were tortured. Many confessed to end the torture. Those who refused were put to death. Nineteen by hanging and one by crushing. Contrary to popular belief, none of them were burnt in America. However, some of those found guilty of witchcraft were burnt in Scotland, England, and many others in far greater numbers. The basis for all of it was it worked.

Being evil is easier than trying to live the life that Jesus emulated. It is easier to hate than it is to love. Easier to judge than it is to help. Easier to blame those in need, than it is to help fill the needs they have. I often wonder how anyone claiming to be Christian forgets about what being one requires of them.

Too many settle for showing up at a church, getting water poured on their heads as infants, and then having nothing else to do to deserve the price Jesus paid on the Cross. It is up to them to believe what they want in this country, yet far too many want the authority to control what others choose for themselves. On the flip side, I've also known people filled with love and compassion spiritually while they still attended church services. While we want the ability to choose for ourselves what we believe, the church people should be able to do the same, but not have the power to force others to live by what they believe.

Over the years, far too many years, most of the people I helped spiritually heal #PTSD said they believed in God and Jesus but wanted nothing to do with a building called "church" nor tolerate the manmade rules within the walls. When they discovered they could, and should, go to God directly on their own, they felt empowered and loved. Isn't that what we all want? Isn't that what we all need? To know that we are loved by God when He knows everything there is to know about us and still loves us, is a far greater gift than they ever expected. They are the people whom I wrote the Minsters Of The Mystery series for. There is so much beauty and power within the scriptures of the Bible, but they never heard them in a church.

While there are many parts of the books including scriptures, they are there to support the premises of the promises we all need to know. God does not send evil into your life as a test. Evil sent them. God is there to help you get through what evil is done to you.

God is not flesh but is Spirit and has made us in His image, so if you are judged by what you look like, those judging you do not understand the difference.

God did not seek to control anyone, so He gave us all free will to decide for ourselves. We must remember we have no control over what others do. We can only control what we do.

God forgives and we should too. Not for the sake of those that harmed us, but for our own sake. It is a weight we do not need to carry. For every moment we spend thinking about what was done to us, we cannot spend on what can fill us up with love, joy, and happiness.

In the end, I hope, that readers can see past the noise of the world to the purpose of their lives.